Athletics

MLB free agency: Five relief pitchers A's could target this offseason

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MLB free agency: Five relief pitchers A's could target this offseason

It's no secret that the A's need to improve their bullpen. Oakland blew 30 saves in 2019, the most of any team in the majors.

With that in mind, here are five free agent relief pitchers the A's could target this offseason:

Will Harris

The A's already know Harris well from his time with the Astros. The 35-year-old has spent the last five years in Houston, posting a sparkling 2.36 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.

The 2019 season was the best of Harris' career. The right-hander went 4-1 with four saves, along with a 1.50 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. He notched 62 strikeouts in 60 innings, allowing just 14 walks.

Harris earned $4.225 million this past season and could be due a raise after his terrific performance. However, at the age of 35, he still figures to be an affordable option for Oakland.

Drew Pomeranz

The former A’s left-handed found tremendous success as a reliever this year after getting dealt to Milwaukee. In 25 games with the Brewers, Pomeranz went 0-1 with two saves, a 2.39 ERA, and a 0.91 WHIP. The 30-year-old struck out an eye-popping 45 batters in just 26 1/3 innings, while issuing eight walks.

Pomeranz pitched for the A's in 2014 and 2015, going 10-10 with three saves and a 3.08 ERA. He spent the first part of last season across the Bay in San Francisco, where he struggled mightily as a starter, going 2-9 with a 5.68 ERA. But once he arrived in Milwaukee, he became a completely different pitcher.

Pomeranz earned $1.5 million this year after making $8.5 million in 2018. His new contract will likely fall somewhere between those figures, making a second A's stint a possibility.

Daniel Hudson

A crucial part of the Nationals' World Series title, Hudson figures to be a hot commodity on the free agent market. The 32-year-old went 9-3 with eight saves and a 2.47 ERA between Washington and Toronto, striking out 71 batters in 73 innings.

Hudson also notched four saves in the postseason, going 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA. The right-hander has a career ERA of 3.83 in 10 seasons, with the first four coming as a starter.

Hudson earned just $1.5 million this year and will be in line for a significant raise. Still, the hard-throwing veteran could be worth it for an A's team in need of late-inning options.

[RELATED: Why A's, Hudson would be good fit]

Joe Smith

Smith was superb in limited appearances for the Astros this season. The veteran right-hander went 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 25 innings, striking out 22 and walking five.

Smith, 35, has a career ERA of 2.98 in 13 major league seasons. The sidearm specialist has been particularly effective against right-handed hitters, limiting them to a meager .215/.278/.308 slash line throughout his career.

Smith just completed a two-year, $15 million deal with Houston and could be available for a similar price this time around. The A's would be wise to at least make an inquiry.

Steve Cishek

Cishek is coming off back-to-back stellar seasons with the Cubs. The right-hander combined to go 8-9 with 11 saves and a 2.55 ERA, registering 135 strikeouts 134 1/3 innings.

[RELATED: Bullpen upgrade is Forst's main priority]

Cishek, 33, has a career 2.69 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 132 saves in 10 seasons. His sidearm delivery has also been especially successful against right-handed hitters, allowing them to slash just .199/.265/.288 in his career.

Cishek earned $6.5 million each of the last two seasons with the Cubs and figures to get a similar contract this offseason. He could certainly help boost the A's bullpen in 2020.

A's spoil historic nine-game winning streak with wild loss vs. Angels

A's spoil historic nine-game winning streak with wild loss vs. Angels

The A’s magical month of August finally fell back to earth on Monday night.

Riding a nine-game win streak entering the first game of their series against the Los Angeles Angels, the A’s blew a four-run lead and lost 10-9.

A win for the A’s would have given Oakland a 10-game win streak, which when prorated over a standard 162-game season, would have been the equivalent of a 27-game win streak. The MLB record was set by the 1916 New York Giants at 26, while the 2017 Cleveland Indians own the AL’s best-ever win streak at 22 games.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

The Angels jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Oakland roared back on the strength of two home runs by Matt Chapman, as the A’s led 9-4 after the top of the fourth inning. Chapman also cleared the bases in that inning with a triple, producing six RBI overall in the losing effort.

But three-time AL MVP Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani brought some power of their own, as a Trout homer in the fourth and an Ohtani bomb in the sixth brought the Angels even at nine.

The A’s bats went quiet down the stretch of the game after a strong start, and Trout gave the Angels the lead with a towering solo home run off Yusmeiro Petit in the bottom of the eighth.

[RELATED: Melvin pins blame for A's-Astros brawl on Houston coach]

Southpaw Sean Manaea struggled mightily against the potent Angels lineup, surrendering four runs on seven hits in just two and two-thirds of an inning before manager Bob Melvin went to the bullpen.

"I didn't think his stuff was bad, I think he's just got to fight through this right now," Melvin told reporters after the loss.

After an emotional weekend series against the rival Houston Astros, including a benches-clearing brawl Sunday that likely will be resulting in some discipline for outfielder Ramón Laureano, the A's couldn't sustain a strong start and see their winning streak end at nine games.

Oakland still leads the AL West by 4.5 games over the Astros, who've won the division in each of the past two seasons.

Mike Fiers will be on the bump Tuesday against Angels pitcher Dylan Bundy as Oakland looks to get back in the win column. 

Watch A's red-hot slugger Matt Chapman crush two home runs vs. Angels

Watch A's red-hot slugger Matt Chapman crush two home runs vs. Angels

Matt Chapman is on a tear.

After the Los Angeles Angels took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning of Monday's game against the A's, the third baseman turned on a pitch from starter Julio Teheran to put the A's on the board with a solo home run to lead off the second inning.

[RELATED: This projection nearly guarantees A's will make the playoffs]

It was Chapman's third consecutive game with a home run. But the star wasn't done there, as he absolutely crushed a pitch from Teheran in his next at-bat that flew well over center fielder Mike Trout's head.

His second blast gave the A's a 5-3 lead in the third inning.

Chapman still wasn't done. In the top of the fourth inning, he came up with the bases loaded and drove in all three runners with a triple to right-center to give the A's an 8-4 lead.

Chapman so far Monday night is 3-for-3 with two homers, a triple and six RBI.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]